President Rodrigo Duterte may resort to “drastic action” against water concessionaires if they fail to prevent the looming water crisis, Malacañang warned on Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said if Manila Water and Maynilad fail to address the water supply shortage, he would make true his earlier threat to terminate their contracts.
“I suppose the fact that they have not undertaken corrective measures that will prevent the evolution of this upcoming crisis again would be a factor that would make the President decide on drastic action against them,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
“If indeed they have not done anything despite the fact that there was a crisis before and now it is being repeated again, then the President may consider that factor,” he added.
Panelo reiterated that water concessionaires could either “shape up or ship out.”
Asked if the President would also consider dismissing officials of state regulator Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) if they failed to do their jobs, Panelo said it would be Duterte’s call.
The Palace official said the government is also open to all solutions to solve the country’s water shortage problem.
“Well, if it comes to that, the government may consider that,” Panelo said.
Last March, the country experienced a water shortage due to the increase in population, demand of consumers, the early onslaught of the dry season, and critically low water levels at the Angat Dam.
Kaliwa Dam probe
Meanwhile, Panelo said the government can still rescind its contract with China for the multi-billion peso New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam project if investigation results show it could be disadvantageous to the country.
“Well, if the finding shows that it is indeed disadvantageous and against the interest of the people there, then it can be rescinded,” Panelo said.
“If the findings will show that it is against the interest of our country, I’m sure the Chinese government will understand; as it would do the same if it was placed in the same situation,” he added.
Earlier, militant groups doubted that there is really a water crisis claiming that the government may be using it as an excuse to justify the Kaliwa Dam project.
The Kaliwa Dam project in Quezon province is expected to provide an additional 600 million liters a day (MLD) of water to Metro Manila and environs.
It was first approved by the National Economic and Development Authority on May 29, 2014, and on June 27, 2017 on the change of project financing scheme from Public-Private Partnership to Overseas Development Assistance.
Last August, the Commission on Audit said the results of the bidding on the project was “in the guise of being a competitive procurement process”, noting that the non-compliance with qualification requirements of two out of the three Chinese contractors seemed to be intentional. (PNA)